Chicken and waffles at Sweet Chick
A soul food icon, chicken and waffles, is the focus of this Brooklyn food shop. The fried poultry’s shatteringly crisp crust and succulent interior—drums and thighs are soaked in sweet tea for 24 hours—are an impressive foil to yeasty Belgian waffles, which can be ordered plain, or stuffed with either bacon and cheddar or rosemary and mushroom. Trick out the squares with Grade-A Vermont maple syrup and house-made butters (such as cranberry, lemon-honey or herb). 164 Bedford Ave at North 8th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-725-4793, sweetchicknyc.com). $16.
Beer cheese from Floyd
Ex-Kentuckians Jim Carden and Andy Templar of Atlantic Avenue watering hole Floyd rolled out their house-made Kentucky beer cheese at Smorgasburg in April. True to its name, hoppy lager zips up sharp cheddar, sourced upstate and colored with annatto. Garlic powder, cayenne and dashes of Tabasco sauce provide back-of-the-throat kick in the tangerine-hued spread. Saturdays at Smorgasburg, East River State Park at Kent Ave and North 7th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (floydeats.com). 8-ounce container $7.
Deviled eggs at Red Rooster Harlem
At Marcus Samuelsson’s uptown hot spot, find a chefly rendition of the beloved American hors d’oeuvres. Instead of mayonnaise, the canary-yellow yolk is smoothed out with herbaceous olive oil, spiced with mustard powder and sprinkled with celery salt. The celebutoque remixes the bites—three halves to a plate—with another downhome favorite, bedding the ovals in mayo with crispy bits of fried chicken skin. 310 Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) between 125th and 126th St (212-792-9001, redroosterharlem.com). $7.
Fried oysters at Vinegar Hill House
Rumor has it that in the 19th century, the Mazzoni family invented rolled oysters in their Louisville saloon. Find a contemporary version at this beloved Kings County eatery. A trio of bivalves are dipped in flour and an egg batter, tossed in panko bread crumbs and dropped in the deep fryer. The result: creamy, funky oysters ensconced in a dark, crunchy coating. A squeeze of lemon and mustard-seed tartar sauce garnish the hefty, briny snacks. Brunch only. 72 Hudson Ave at Water St, Vinegar Hill, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-522-1018, vinegarhillhouse.com). $10.
Pimento cheese sandwich at Van Horn Sandwich Shop
Native North Carolinian Jacob Van Horn serves a pedigreed version of the Dixieland darling, pimento cheese, at his narrow, sunny bistro. Tweaking his mother’s recipe, he enhances the traditional mix of white and yellow cheddar with salty Parmesan, and swaps out mayo for cottage cheese. The bright orange dip—punctuated with house-roasted red pimientos—is slathered between slices of buttered white pullman loaf from nearby Caputo’s and griddled until crisp, brown and oozing. 231 Court St at Baltic St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-596-9707, vanhornbrooklyn.com). $8.
Chocolate-bourbon pecan pie at Pie Corps
Kentucky’s Kern’s Kitchen owns the copyright to Derby Pie—a traditional sweet for the annual race—but you can find a Northern rendition at this quaint Greenpoint bakeshop. Atop a tender hand-rolled crust, semisweet chocolate and toasted pecans form a soft, cookielike interior. A splash of Bulleit bourbon adds boozy spice to the gooey treat. 77 Driggs Ave at Monitor St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (917-721-3052, piecorps.com). Slice $5.
Fried chicken at Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter
There’s no shortage of fried chicken in Gotham. But Keedick Coulter, a Roanoke, Virginia, native, wowed Southern comfort fanatics last year with his superlative batches at his laid-back Alphabet City eatery. He bathes the free-range pieces in a sweet-tea brine for 6–12 hours, dusts them in a buttermilk dredge and crisps them in a pressure-cooker fryer. The burnished beauties come with a light-as-a-cloud buttermilk biscuit. 94 Ave C between 6th and 7th Sts (212-228-2972, bobwhitecounter.com). $11.50.
Kentucky Hot Brown at Bar Americain
The signature open-faced sandwich of Kentucky, the Hot Brown, makes an appearance at this airy midtown brasserie run by celebrity chef Bobby Flay (incidentally a horse-racing enthusiast). Egg-battered Texas toast (a thicker cut of bread) is blanketed with Mornay sauce, a béchamel amped with Swiss and Parmesan cheeses. Roasted turkey, crisp bacon and cheddar are piled on, and then the whole messy package goes for a turn in the broiler until warm and melted. Curly parsley and a grilled tomato offer a nod to freshness on the gut-busting plate. 152 W 52nd St at Seventh Ave (212-265-9700, baramericain.com). $18.
The Kentucky Derby may be over in the blink of an eye—and with it, all that cash you placed on ten-to-one odds. Bet instead on a full day of feasting on Southern food. Here is TONY’s guide to NYC’s winning Derby Day dishes from soul food joints, an Iron Chef restaurant, a Greenpoint pie shop and more.
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